MOTORWAY COPS: On patrol with Wiltshire Police as they target M4 truck drivers
Truck drivers were in traffic police officers’ sights yesterday as the force’s roads policing unit descended on the M4. All this week, Wiltshire Police’s traffic officers are taking part in Project Edward; the second word an acronym standing for Every Day Without a Road Death. And on Thursday around half a dozen white-capped coppers hit patrolled the county’s only motorway in search of motoring misdemeanours.
Sgt William Ayres of the roads policing unit said: “We’re targeting the main contributory factors to death or serious injuries on the roads, which are what we call the fatal four: inappropriate excess speed, drink and drug driving, no seatbelts and distractions such as mobile phones.” Over the past few days his officers have been patrolling high-risk routes including the A303 near Salisbury and, on Wednesday, the A4 near Chippenham. They’ve seen everything from drug driving and motorists not wearing their seatbelts to parents with children in the car speeding at 90mph plus.
But on the M4 yesterday the officers mostly ended up stopping commercial drivers. Sgt William Ayres of Wiltshire Police
Lorries and trucks Even experienced traffic cop Sgt Ayres was shocked when his officers stopped an HGV with a tachograph that could have been tampered with to enable the trucker to keep driving despite the device recorded the driver supposedly resting. Under UK law, goods vehicle drivers can only do up to 11 hours behind the wheel every day.
Sgt Ayres said: “Tachographs are designed to ensure road safety and prevent fatigue. They are absolutely crucial to ensure the safety of drivers of these heavy goods vehicles as well as the safety of other road users, so incidents like this are very concerning.” The device was being investigated by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency, police said.
The suspected doctored tachograph Picture: WILTSHIRE POLICE Officers handed out GBP900-worth of fines to those caught flouting the tachograph rules.
Two bald tyres were found on an HGV, while another driver was caught using a mobile phone. Wiltshire Police said officers banned one vehicle from the road after they found it to be grossly overweight and two other vehicles were told to cut their speeds as they were slightly overloaded. GBP800-worth of fines were issued to drivers of overloaded trucks.
And it’s not just lorries and large trucks that are in poor condition. A truck is brought into the junction 15 weighbridge
Back to work With children back at school and people returning to work post-lockdown, police officers are finding more and more people haven’t checked their cars – or are flouting the rules of the road. Speaking to the Adver at the Highways Agency weighbridge near Junction 15 yesterday morning, Sgt Ayres said: “A lot more people are back at work, so the roads are busier.
We’re targeting anyone using the roads, especially commuters and business users that might not necessarily have checked the condition of their fleet or haven’t checked the condition of their vehicles over lockdown. “We’re looking a lot at construction and use, checking tyres and that vehicles are roadworthy. “A large proportion of vehicles are fully licensed, insured and road worthy and the drivers are not intoxicated.
However, there has been a small proportion that are. “These dedicated campaigns and patrols have identified those offenders a lot more easily than we generally would in our day-to-day role.” For the traffic officer, who has been on the roads unit on-and-off for five years, what has surprised him this week is the number of people caught committing two or more of the “fatal four”.
He said: “So, not just inappropriate speed but also not wearing a seatbelt or not wearing a seatbelt but also on the mobile phone or with a defective tyre. That’s come as a bit of a surprise; people with multiple offences.”
Bald tyres on one truck Picture: WILTSHIRE POLICE Advice Drivers were urged to check the condition of their cars and vans – especially if they hadn’t had it MOT-checked recently.
In March, drivers were granted a six-month extension to their MOT certificates. That was cut short earlier this summer as more drivers returned to the roads, with normal MOT rules back in force from August 1. Sgt Ayres said the relaxation of rules during the lockdown had had an affect on the road.
“We’ve noticed a chance with a lot of the maintenance side of things, with the vehicles being unroadworthy potentially due to the fact MOTs have been extended for six months – although there is still an obligation on the driver to maintain and upkeep the vehicle. “We would be urging those who have had their six month extension due to lockdown just to make sure their vehicles are roadworthy especially tyres going into winter.” He reiterated that advice when asked for his message to commercial drivers.
“Be more rigorous with the fleet,” he said. “Little things like potholes can knock the alignment out on a car especially if they’re doing big miles. “As soon as the alignment’s out you can then get uneven wear for example on the inner edge of the tyre which will then expose the cord.
You’re then much more likely to get a blow-out.”
Police at the junction 15 weighbridge on Thursday
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